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Managing IT in Radiation Oncology: The Role of the Medical Physicist

R Siochi1*, W Feng2, 3*, B Curran4*, (1) West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, (2) Bayhealth Medical Center, Tenafly, NJ, (3) St. Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston, NJ, (4) Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center , Richmond, VA


(Monday, 7/30/2018) 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Room: Karl Dean Ballroom A2

The practice of Medical Physics is increasingly becoming the management of information and information flow. Information Technology (IT) is a crucial part of treatment delivery, workflow management, and patient care because of the data-intensive nature of radiation oncology (RO) and imaging. The ability to work closely with IT involves a persistent and diligent approach to educating them about our needs and collaborating with them. An overview of the areas where medical physics input is critical, as well as an insight into the challenges and potential solutions to them will be provided.

In a small clinic, the role of the medical physicist in IT management is generally broader than it is in larger departments. There are limited resources in small clinics such as budget, personnel, experience and support. Other common challenges include misconceptions of RO medical devices as office computers and decision-making systems that operate with minimal medical physicist input. Because RO is one of the most IT-demanding specialties, medical physicists in small clinics are often required to assume extra IT support responsibility. It is crucial for medical physicists to not only be educated in IT management, but also to educate and promote IT management in RO facilities.

In larger facilities, the role of the medical physicist in IT is usually shared with the institution’s IT and biomedical personnel. This allows the medical physicist to shed some of the more routine IT tasks, but often requires management of diverse resources in order to maintain the safety and effectiveness of information management. External IT departments are often perceived as espousing policies contrary to the best treatment for the patient. The medical physicist must not only lead the development of appropriate practices in IT, but also manage the politics of resources with divergent goals.

This session will present discussion of IT management and the medical physicist’s role in large and small institutions. The presentations will be followed by an ‘open mic’ session where the audience can present situations and issues for discussion with the presenters.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the IT needs in radiation oncology and the roles that a medical physicist can play in its management.
2. Present examples of IT management and issues in both large and small institutions and the role of the medical physicist in IT decisions.
3. Using examples from the presenters and audience, discuss how the medical physicist might manage the issues and allocation of IT resources.



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